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Composers raise voices on copyright laws

Update: February, 18/2012 - 09:45

 

Breach: Advertisements for a music show featuring Trinh Cong Son organised by the Viet Nam Circus Federation can be seen all over Ha Noi despite the fact that the late composer's family has not signed any contract with its organisers. — VNS File Photo
HA NOI — As many as 40 composers and members of the Ha Noi Musicians' Association signed a letter petitioning management agencies for tighter regulation on copyright payments and permission for live performances at a recent meeting.

The meeting was organised by the Viet Nam Copyright Protection Music Centre (VCPMC) in response to recent cases which have revealed the inefficiency of agencies authorised to give permission for live performances.

In the last year, the centre has gathered copyright payments for only one-tenth of the total number of music performances throughout the country.

At the meeting, participants blamed the agency authorised to monitor and distribute payments, the Performing Arts Department in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, for granting performance organisers permission without demanding copyright payment for composers.

According to composer and centre director Pho Duc Phuong, existing regulation on performing activities and organising professional artistic performances (known as Regulation 47) should be amended to include a commitment to follow copyright and relevant law.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently submitted a draft performing arts decree, which offers a chance for composers to demand their rights are met, he said.

According to lawyer and deputy director of the centre Pham Thanh Thuy, the current copyright situation has caused harm to both composers' income and State tax revenue.

"The centre has been paying four kinds of tax to the State, namely personal income tax for composers, VAT, enterprise income tax and income tax for show organisers," she said, adding: "If organisers do not pay copyright fees to composers through the centre, the State loses revenue."

Last year, the centre received VND41 billion (US$1.96 million) from copyright payments, which, according to experts, accounted for only 10 per cent of the figure that should have been paid.

Composer Truong Ngoc Ninh suggested the management agencies in charge should give permission to performance organisers with a legal letter stating copyright payment to composers has taken place.

"Otherwise, organisers should not be giving permission, very simple," he said.

Phuong said in HCM City, local authorities had treated the matter very seriously.

"The HCM City Culture, Sports and Tourism Department has asked show organisers to seek permission from composers before applying for permission from the authorities," he said, adding: "The department has acted properly."

Composer Nguyen Trong Tao added that the centre should also ask for copyright payments to domestic composers from shows organised overseas.

Composer Tran Le Chien insisted that singers should know before signing contracts with show organisers whether copyright payments had been made.

"Otherwise, singers themselves are violating the law," she said.

The most recent case concerning copyright permission involved two upcoming performances themed Trinh Cong Son's (1939-2001) ballads.

Both shows titled Ru Tinh (Love Lullaby) will be organised by the Viet Nam Circus Federation and the IB Group in Ha Noi in early March.

The IB Group has signed a contract to pay copyright fees to the late composer's family in order to use the songs during the four shows scheduled for March 3-8, while the Viet Nam Circus Federation has not.

Yet the Viet Nam Circus Federation has been granted permission by the Performing Arts Department.

The late composer's family intend to ask the department to withdraw permission issued for the Viet Nam Circle Federation concert. — VNS

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